Regarding the draft concept design for the Cowes Cultural Centre (CCC) released by BCSC (Bass Coast Shire Council), I make the following observations.
In 2012, the plan for the redevelopment of the CCC envisaged a building which was focused around the library.
This is for the simple reason that over 40 per cent of the community are already library members. The universal experience is that a redeveloped or new library experiences a significant increase in membership, visitation numbers, diversity of services accessed, and time spent on-site.
In other words, an already busy library gets much busier. It makes sense, therefore, to co-locate other functions in the same part of the building so that they can benefit from the library traffic. This obviously includes the visitor information centre, the ACS (Arts and Crafts Society) gallery and, potentially, the shire’s front desk. A one-stop information, history, arts and culture shop.
A café should also be co-located. This is best described as a “pop-up” café, lacking a kitchen or food prep areas, catered by an existing local café from their own kitchen and cold store. Only beverages are prepared on-site. This encourages spontaneous visitation, further increasing traffic.
It would also be eminently possible to negotiate with the historical society and ASPI (Artists’ Society of Phillip Island) to permanently exhibit or rotate parts of their own collections and stage exhibitions in the library proper, encouraging visitation into their own spaces when they are open but promoting their existence and collections even when closed.
The shire’s presentation was notable also for what it did not say. Successfully obtaining government grants will be critical to the business case for the CCC. The truth is that the library would receive a Living Libraries Grant, the visitor information centre a Tourism Victoria Grant, ASPI, the Arts and Crafts Society and the Historical Society could apply for sundry arts, Museums Vic and philanthropic trust grants, the project overall will get something from RDV (Regional Development Victoria) and that’s basically it.
Due to long-held Arts Victoria guidelines, there won’t be a grant for their wonderful theatre. As has been known for over a decade, performing arts grants go to regional theatres. The Cowes theatre would not be a regional theatre, but a local one.
It will not receive a government grant. The whole bill for the performing arts space will be borne by the ratepayer. And that space is the key to the shire’s design concept.
Something to think about, isn’t it?
Mikhaela Barlow, candidate for Island Ward.
Authorised by Mikhaela Barlow, 57 Tampa Road, Cape Woolamai, 3925.